First Per­son

Dystopian movie “Ten Years” has been a huge hit in Hong Kong. Its five dif­fer­ent de­pic­tions of a dark, bleak fu­ture for the city won the Best Film gong at the Hong Kong Film Awards last month. Ng Ka-le­ung pro­duced the movie and also di­rected the seg­ment “

HK Magazine - - FIRST PERSON -

“For a Hongkonger, it’s a com­pli­ment and an honor to be com­pared to a won­ton noo­dle place.”

I was born in 1981 in Hong Kong, and raised here. I grad­u­ated from PolyU in 2003, study­ing multimedia de­sign.

I’ve worked in post-pro­duc­tion, com­puter graph­ics, as a drama pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant in TVB and pro­duc­tion houses, and even as a wed­ding photographer.

The first time I could ac­tu­ally work on my own project was the one be­fore “Ten Years,” called “Fad­ing Mar­ket­places.”

It’s a series of doc­u­men­taries, record­ing the sto­ries of hawk­ers and small shops in Hong Kong.

My fam­ily had a store in Shek Wu Hui [in She­ung Shui] for decades, un­til it closed down last year.

So when I started my own project, I wanted to record the unique­ness of Hong Kong in its mar­ket­places, which could be slowly dis­ap­pear­ing.

Af­ter that, I started to think about my next project. I saw so many prob­lems in Hong Kong, and we were at a bot­tle­neck.

Who was af­fected by these prob­lems? Grass­roots Hongkongers. But many were not aware that this sit­u­a­tion was af­fect­ing them di­rectly.

many peo­ple from dif­fer­ent walks of life, and asked them three ques­tions about their past, present and fu­ture.

I talked to

I re­al­ized peo­ple’s an­swers all had some­thing in com­mon. When it came to their fu­ture, peo­ple ac­tu­ally started to think a lot harder.

Some peo­ple imag­ined a brighter fu­ture, some a darker one, but it didn’t mat­ter—in their mind, they all had a cer­tain strength to change some­thing in the present.

So I de­cided to cre­ate a film about the fu­ture of Hong Kong.

I worked with the other four direc­tors [Jevons Au, Chow Kwun-wai, Wong Fei-pang, Kwok Zune] be­cause they could all tell the sto­ries of those on the edge of so­ci­ety.

Our thoughts and tech­niques were not that sim­i­lar, but how we treated the re­la­tion­ship be­tween our work and so­ci­ety was.

All five sto­ries de­scribe a fu­ture we don’t want to see. We tried to project it to its ex­treme, be­cause right now, peo­ple think that things are still fine.

We fol­lowed the track Hong Kong is on to imag­ine the fu­ture, but will it ac­tu­ally hap­pen like we thought? It’s only a 50/50 chance.

It’s still the fu­ture and if we can make changes dur­ing the process, that “fu­ture” will not come true. We still have time to change.

We are not try­ing to pro­vide a so­lu­tion, be­cause that’s not what films are meant for. But we want to in­spire peo­ple to think and care about so­ci­ety.

We chose to por­tray a fu­ture 10 years away be­cause if we talk about 30 years in the fu­ture, it’s hard to imag­ine—and there might not be that big of a change in five years.

Ten years is a range of imag­i­na­tion that matches with the story.

The big pic­ture will be hard to change, and it could even get worse. But at the same time, peo­ple can make their own choices.

No mat­ter what sit­u­a­tion we are in, in­de­pen­dent and crit­i­cal think­ing is the most im­por­tant and pre­cious of all, and I still have trust and hope in Hongkongers. I’m still op­ti­mistic.

When I first started on the script of my story

“Lo­cal Egg” in 2014, the word “lo­cal” was not as politi­cized as it is now. It was a very neu­tral word.

Lo­cal­ism is a good thing— It’s only if a place has a his­tory and her­itage, that it can cre­ate such strong lo­cal­is­tic ideals.

Sadly in the past two years, when­ever you talk about lo­cal­ism or con­ser­va­tion of lo­cal cul­ture, politi­cians will start la­bel­ing you, call­ing you a separatist.

At first when we started this project, we never thought it would be so well re­ceived. We were only hop­ing for a few screen­ings.

The re­sult was un­ex­pected, and it cre­ated so many chem­i­cal re­ac­tions in Hong Kong’s au­di­ence. It’s not just a movie any­more.

It’s very nat­u­ral for a movie to have lovers and haters. I’m open to it.

But some peo­ple crit­i­cized the movie with­out even watch­ing it, and some crit­i­cized it based on the bud­get of the pro­duc­tion—that didn’t mean much to me.

I’m ac­tu­ally quite happy that the movie was com­pared to a won­ton noo­dle place [af­ter it won Best Film, Hong Kong Tourism Board chair­man Peter Lam Kin-ngok said in an in­ter­view: “If I told you a won­ton noo­dle shop is the best res­tau­rant in Hong Kong, would you ac­cept that?”].

Be­cause I quite en­joy won­ton noo­dles. For a Hongkonger, it’s a com­pli­ment and an honor to be com­pared to a won­ton noo­dle place.

There are qual­ity and con­struc­tive crit­i­cisms that we can ac­tu­ally learn from: But with mean­ing­less crit­i­cism, there isn’t much to dis­cuss.


Missed “Ten Years” in the cinema? You can now rent the movie on iTunes Store and Google Play or check out­tenyears for up­com­ing community screen­ings. Find out more about Hong Kong’s movie in­dus­try at the HKDI’s TalkX Series:

Liu Kai-chi plays a gro­cery store keeper in “Lo­cal Egg.”

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